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BurdaStyle readers, a question: How do you feel about tattoos?

I’m on the fence about them, especially as their popularity has grown and almost everybody seems to have one. Tattoos can certainly be stunning works of art, as above. And they can make a powerful statement — every day and for the rest of your life. I’m not sure there’s any statement I’m THAT committed to making, but that’s me.

image via

When I was growing up in the Sixties and Seventies, the only people I ever saw with tattoos were older men who’d been in the navy, who usually had an anchor tattooed on their forearm (Think, Popeye the Sailor). I never saw a woman with one, or a young person.

Today you can get a tattoo, on a whim, at the mall — it’s like piercing your ears.

Once upon a time, if you were a fan of say, singer Patsy Cline, you might wear a Patsy Cline t-shirt….Today, you can wear Patsy permanently on your bicep.

images via here and here

When did words (or t-shirts) fail to express our enthusiasm — or am I missing the point?

I love Shirley Temple as much as the next person, but I doubt I’d tattoo her on my calf. And as far as the cast of Star Wars, fuggitaboutit!

images via here and here

Here are just a few of the obstacles I don’t seem to be able to overcome with regard to tattoos:

1) They’re extremely painful to get (or so I’ve heard), often requiring pre-tattooing inebriation.

2) They are permanent — if your taste/lifestyle changes, you’re out of luck (unless you want to undergo expensive laser treatments).

3) You see them everywhere, which seems to diminish their cachet (not that cachet is the reason most people get tattoos).

4) They inevitably turn dark green with age.

images via here and here

In closing, readers – do you consider tattoos fashion, art, rebellion, or a bit of all three?

Jump in!


When native New Yorker Peter Lappin bought his first sewing machine two years ago to hem a pair of thrift store jeans, little did he know he was initiating a journey that would bring him fame and fortune. While awaiting his fortune he stays busy writing “the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog,” Male Pattern Boldness, and now contributing to BurdaStyle.

“For more than twenty years I’d lived on the edge of the Garment District without even knowing what a seam ripper was. Now I rip daily!”


  • Meprofilebarn_large

    Jun 18, 2011, 12.46 AMby Justine of Sew Country Chick

    I tattoed myself with a needle, thread, and India ink as a rebellious teenage punk rocker in the early 80’s . I had a 15 year old friend with a tattoo "Born to Lose " on his Bald scalp. We were trying to shock others. Years later I had my tattoo removed. I wasn’t that person anymore. I fear many people are doing a very permanent act to themselves that they WILL tire of eventually. I get tired of things I once thought I loved and it is the same with tattoos. They also mark you as being lower class to a certain element in society. I was dating a European aristocrat years ago and his friends were “amused” by my tattoo, to say the least.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 05.25 AMby Peter Lappin

      Wow. A lot of great insights in your comment, Justine!

  • Missing

    Jun 17, 2011, 06.56 PMby Jodie St. Clair

    Wow, reading these comments just shows how close minded people still are about tattoos. There are many cultures tattoos are a sign of honor. While I wouldn’t get a large tattoo I think many of them are very beautiful. There are many that are not to my taste, but I would never judge someone for the artwork they decided to put on their body.

    I do think they are more popular right now than they have been in the past, but I also hope that this is because people have become more open about different forms of expression.

    2 Replies
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 05.26 AMby Peter Lappin

      Tattoos are one of those things most people aren’t ambivalent about it seems!

    • Dscf6507_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 08.15 AMby urbandon

      Agree. Such harsh judgement of others is a sure sign of weakness in them.

  • Missing

    Jun 17, 2011, 04.56 PMby momob

    EEEEEEEK! I consider it self mutilation! I pity those who feel a need to do this to “express” themselves! I’ve been expressing myself through my writing, and arts and crafts my entire life and never felt the need to deface my body even once. It turns a beautiful human body into a freak, IMHO. (It is also making dermotologists wealthy by trying to remove them, and believe me, it isn’t pretty.)

    1 Reply
    • Dscf6507_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 08.20 AMby urbandon

      Everyone should be free to express themselves as they wish, or decorate themselves as they see fit. Many indigenous cultures have a long and rich history of tattoo (and other body) art. People enjoy them, it makes them happy. Is that not the most important thing in this life? Don’t you agree?

  • Missing

    Jun 17, 2011, 01.35 PMby fuzzyg

    It’s been what, 20 years since Cher had hers removed? Because as you say so well “everybody seems to have one”.

  • Missing

    Jun 17, 2011, 01.21 PMby suziwong66

    I’d like a tattoo but have yet to make a move toward execution…Firstly i don’t know what i want and secondly i can’t think where i’d like it…it has to be out of the way as my professional domain isn’t quite so progressive; I finally relented and took out my eyebrow ring after taking it out each morning and putting it back in each evening.

    Until i feel completely right about getting one, i won’t. Until i know a tattoo artist that is highly skilled i won’t either; nothing worse than some tacky poorly executed clichéd design on one’s ankle etc

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 05.27 AMby Peter Lappin

      I think it’s wise to think it through carefully, since it’s not easily removable….

  • Fullsizeoutput_11ea_large

    Jun 17, 2011, 01.06 PMby sew4my3

    Personally I believe everyone has the right to express themselves artistically and otherwise. Some display tattoos proudly as if it were part of their clothing statement and others hide them only to be displayed while wearing very few pieces of clothing. Fashion to some? Sure! Statement of self? You bet!

    My brothers and I will be getting small tattoos on our upper back shoulder in honor of my father who just passed away this late March from kidney cancer. Not so much as fashion as it is an emotional statement.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 05.29 AMby Peter Lappin

      Great point. Tattoos can mean a lot to the wearer — and we don’t always know what the significance is to the person who has the tattoo.

  • Img_4254_large

    Jun 17, 2011, 08.41 AMby Rikki Cade Battle

    i personally don’t mind tattoos so long as there meaningful to the percion, what i cant stand seeing are the shop brought tattoos many of which are common and can be seen any were on a many number of people. i my self don’t have a tattoo but if i did i would want it to be original, i would want to be the only percion with it. im going with my boyfriend to get his first tatt at the weekend, i designed it for him so its original and perennial to him, yet it isn’t perennial to us as a couple encase everything between us goes wrong, i just included the eliminates which he wanted to put into it but needed someone with a more if an artistic eye to make it work. (i say this as an art student) we also spent a lot of time looking round finding the right place. and it turned out that we managed to find some were clean with a good reputation which was actually quite cheep. so with a bit of luck tomorrow he will have a lovely tattoo. also tattoos don’t tend to turn green, they may fade over time but so do all works of art, even if you look at the human body the skin gets lighter as you get older and you may not tan as well. the ink that is used to day isgenridy the best its ever bin as are the tools used, so the tattoo should age slowly and gracefully as the percion douse.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 05.30 AMby Peter Lappin

      That’s good to know, Rikki!

  • Missing

    Jun 16, 2011, 10.47 PMby taysha1128

    Dark green?! Ugh this is news to me and I have 3. I’m also black so maybe that saves me. I love my tattoos! I also think it’s cool when people do get them when the tattoo has a MEANING of some sort. I have two Chinese symbols on my neck, one meaning sexy and the other clever, both of which I am and should be when I’m old. The other is an AIDS ribbon on my shoulder/back with the date and finishing time underneath for the AIDS charity marathon I ran years ago. It was personal triumph in my life that I wanted to commemorate and since I also ran the marathon for friends/family I’ve lost to the disease it had even deeper meaning plus I ran the marathon on 2/29/04, leap year so I though that was cool as well. All that being said I have seen people get tattoos of the silliest things that I wonder, “will you be able to explain that in 20 years?” If you don’t think you can, except with a “I like it” or “I thought it was cool” then perhaps you need to re-think your decision.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 05.31 AMby Peter Lappin

      Maybe there really are right reasons and wrong reasons…

  • Missing

    Jun 16, 2011, 09.59 PMby terriaw

    I love tattoos. Always have. I got my first tattoo 22 years ago, and just had it redone, brightened up, and made bigger last year. On some areas of the body, it doesn’t hurt as much as you think. On some parts, it hurts like hell. BTW, you have to sign a consent form saying you are not under the influence of drugs and alcohol before getting one. In my humble opinion, I don’t think tattoos are a fad and never were. Getting a tattoo is a personal statement, a means of self expression. I think you should know yourself pretty well before getting one because it is permanent. If you have any doubts, don’t get one. I agree with the previous commenter – go to a professional! Do your research. Ask around. Just like when you seek professionals for other services requiring a special skill. I have been thinking about getting another one, but can’t decide the decide and where. I’ve been thinking about this one for a year. It shouldn’t be just a whim. In closing, I think tattoos are a self expression. They’re not a fashion piece, like a scarf or a belt.

    1 Reply
  • Missing

    Jun 16, 2011, 09.08 PMby clux64

    Fad…and not for me. That being said, I do like them on some people. I’ll share the advice I’m giving all my young friends who may be tempted by the fad—First, consider a Henna. It will last for a while, is natural and gone before you have too much remorse over it. BUT, If you’re going to get a tattoo, get a good one. Pay some $$. Go to a REAL artist with a good reputation and give some thought to your selection. NOTHING is more hideous than a cheap, poorly executed tattoo.

    2 Replies
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 05.32 AMby Peter Lappin

      Excellent advice!

    • Vatten_large

      Jun 18, 2011, 10.54 AMby ichigogirl

      Great advice, but I’d like to add: stay away from the black henna (red is ok): it’s a powerful allergen, can cause severe reactions and/or scarring, and there are treatments (normal hair-dyes and medical drugs for eg) that you can not ever use again if you ever had a black henna “tattoo”. Plus it may make you allergic to common dyes found in clothing and products. BIG word of warning.

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